A Farewell from Franci

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It’s my last day as a Spindleworks intern…anyone who’s stepped foot in this building can imagine how hard of a goodbye this is. I was greeted this morning with a box of donuts made at a shop in Portland from the always kind crew of staff staff here, so the bitterness of leaving has been sprinkled by some sweetness. This week has felt a little quieter to me than most, but some exciting activities have been in the works here! I enjoyed sitting in on Martha’s Oaxacan Wood Animals workshop yesterday afternoon. A few artists used pre-cut wooden shapes to create farm animal shapes without altering the original forms of the wood pieces. Projects like this help create such resourceful and creative attitudes in us all by increasing the difficulty of sculpting with shapes the artist did not individually form. Wood glue was used to secure the pieces together. The animals created naturally had a slightly whimsical touch due to the difficulty of pairing shapes together, which gave them all a more playful touch, as well. The next challenge is adding paint and yarn and other kinds of attachments to bring the creatures to life.

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I’m not sure I could have enjoyed my 6 weeks with Spindleworks more. In assisting these artists I have received more assistance than in most environments I’ve entered. Working and socializing with these incredible makers and doers has been eye opening for me, but even more so, it has been inspirational. The sense of confidence and comfort with oneself, diligence and patience, and incredible positivity are all rare traits to be able to find woven throughout such a large and diverse group. The staff and artists have been eager to help and welcome me, quick to show thanks and are, of course, each full of talent. If you’re reading this and have yet to pay a visit to the studios and galleries of Spindleworks, I am hoping that these posts have been revealing enough to convince you to stop by. In one spot you will find countless opportunities for volunteering, an artisan shop, and an experience that is as energizing as it is rare. I think one of the strongest feelings it will leave you with is gratefulness. I know I’ll be back as soon as possible.

– Franci

We’ve got fabric on our minds

Valentine’s Day is nearly upon us…This cardboard banjo sits by the window at the end of the upstairs hallway year round but is looking especially in place this week.

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Don’t think our heads are caught up in the holiday quite yet though; we’ve spent the morning with fabric on our mind! We’ve got a few artists putting the finishing touches on cashmere patch scarves, many weaving away on their latest projects, and a staff member learning to knit her first hat.

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Upstairs, Cathy is teaching a silk screen printmaking workshop. We had one a few weeks ago, too, and some artists are adding on to their creations from that session.

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Downstairs, Diane works on a jumper with Sarah. They’re using an old pattern that we found from the 80s with an appropriately retro cloud patterned fabric. It’s been a process reading the faded pattern, but the top half has been shaped and completed already, and the sweet blue skirt is well on its own way.

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What a winter we’ve had in Brunswick, with our windows all frosted over and fogging up. The snow bank outside has engulfed the front walk’s wooden tree sculpture that one of our artists made and cancelled days of work continue to pile up. Winters like this make it clear that we’re lucky to be located in such a lively part of the state. A fundraiser is in the makings, art shows continue to be scheduled, visitors continue to stop by or shop, and the overall feeling of the days has yet to change or tire. I’m still not fully convinced that it’s even a possibility.

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A Friday of Folding with Anna Lowe…

On Thursday and Friday of this week, we had bookmaker Anna Lowe come in to teach two workshops on making “flexigrams”: paper shapes that open in multiple directions to reveal hidden pieces of artwork or tell a story. The process reminds me a bit of making those origami cootie catchers that were so popular in middle school. Anna brought sample flexigrams that featured figures changing outfits when folded and unfolded different ways, different lines of poems, and different petals to flowers. The artists were taught to make certain shapes to work with but had total freedom in design and purpose of the pieces. What an incredible turn out we had this morning for a somewhat quieter day in the studios….

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We’re looking forward to seeing Anna again in a few weeks when she returns to teach a workshop on “magic wallets.” Thanks Anna! This was a relaxing and productive workshop on such a chilly Friday.

Woven Wednesdays

Each Wednesday, artist mentor Cathy takes a group of artists to visit the local elementary school. There they spend a little under an hour teaching first and second grade students to weave. The children are as eager to learn the process as we are to use our skills towards teaching. Barbara took charge of the loom today. The students have been adding on to this creation week after week. Barbara gives them each the chance to weave a few rows and then calls the next student up for a turn.

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While the students do get turns using the real loom, they’ve also been taught to create their own looms using just scissors and cardboard. This process is called “card weaving.” A huge selection of yarn is picked through each week by the students. There is so much room for originality and experimentation in this process. One student explained the way she chose her colors in coordination with the fur on her favorite doll’s stuffed dog: the finished piece is to be his blanket!

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It’s an experience to watch this short but meaningful visit play out. Both the students and Spindleworks visitors are listeners, learners, and artists, each offering such positivity to one another and embracing this unique opportunity.